A Business’s Reputation Is More Vulnerable on the Social Web

There’s a fragile balance between truth and fiction within online communities. Experiments testing how long a hoax can be passed as fact show that the more trusting the community and the less centralized its communication, the more vulnerable it is to believing misinformation. A tarnished reputation can do serious damage to a business’s viability. If falsehoods or negative reviews of a business or people close to it crop up online, corrections or rebuttals can come too late to mitigate lasting damage. Active reputation management has always been a necessity of online business, but emerging search and social integrations magnify the issue.


The 3 Best Places to Complain About a Company
via U.S. News & World Report

The Internet and social media have transferred nearly all power to consumers in the business-consumer relationship. Business must take care to address customer needs or face consequences to reputation, authority and future revenue. Monitor your business name online and be quick to respond to concerns brought to the attention of watchdog agencies and the executive suite.

How to use social media for more than just marketing
via The Business Journals

If you’ve decided to devote time and effort into understanding and engaging in social media, understand the range of benefits you can tap into beyond marketing to make the most of your investment. Social media is a tool for recruiting talent, networking with potential partners, nurturing business relationships and drawing market research and competitor research.

Abuse online may repel us, but it shouldn’t be a crime | David Edgar
via The Guardian

Free speech is important. However, business must be prepared to stand up to the voice of anonymous amplified on the Internet. Set guidelines for UGC submitted on channels under your control; it’s generally accepted to strike unconstructive comments, personal attacks, profanity and hate speech. Establish a policy for responding to negative comments on outside channels and be prepared with a crisis communication plan if disaster strikes.

Lessons From The Auto Industry: Leveraging Social For Organic Traction
via Searchengine Land

Taking cues from major auto brands Ford and Audi, the author offers up comparable grassroots social media marketing tactics. In highly competitive industries where big brands and local businesses contend for coveted search real estate, creative and innovative approaches are needed for personalized outreach, attracting blog coverage and building relevant buzz.

Virginia Nussey is the director of content marketing at MobileMonkey. Prior to joining this startup in 2018, Virginia was the operations and content manager at Bruce Clay Inc., having joined the company in 2008 as a writer and blogger.

See Virginia's author page for links to connect on social media.

Comments (9)
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9 Replies to “A Business’s Reputation Is More Vulnerable on the Social Web”

Eric Eddler

Many companies are not fully aware of the importance of their online reputation. What other people say about a company can dictate that company’s success or failure. With the internet comes another medium for people to share opinions about a business. For this reason, good reputation management services are necessary to have a positive presence online.

I totally agree with the blog post. That’s why we need to have right tool to keep monitoring our company image.

But as Chris said, sometimes competitors leave bad reviews to us. Anyway, I believe what goes around comes around.

One good example of how viral information can damage a brand is MicDonald’s recent run-in with controversy regarding the pink slime included in its products. Content about the issue spread like wild fire across social media.

@Brent, I think it is becoming more and more vital that small businesses have a full-time staff/employee dedicated to their online brand appearance and their social media presence. Like Virginia said, having the owner be engaged socially is rare, and can be too much of a burden.

@Nick, Being involved and showing customers you care goes a long way. Having a person in house I think may be the best way as opposed to outsourcing it. I see too many problems when the social media responsibilities are outsourced.

It’s absolutely essential to monitor your brand reputation online. If you don’t know what is being said about your business, you can’t join the conversation. Responding to negative comments and offering to “make good” on the situation shows your customers that you care.

@Brent: I totally agree with you. Perhaps for some SMBs, a dedicated staff member may not be necessary if the role is understood as part of the culture from the top down. But that requires the owner is very engaged socially and with all the other responsibilities of running a business it can be rare.

@Javed: Right. Since any tool can be used for or against someone, knowledge is vital.

@Chris: Luckily some negative reviews in the mix actually improve a company’s credibility, as long as there are positive ones as well.

Not much you can do about bad internet reviews, really.
Competitors are starting to leave bad reviews, to gain an advantage in the marketplace, and it works.

Thanks for this. This reminds me of times when a twitter hashtag originally intended to advertise a business is flipped on it’s head, and used to criticize it instead. Heh

Brent Rangen

What’s your thoughts on small businesses hiring a full-time dedicated staff to working on the brand appearance now?

To me, it seems more relevant than ever, especially because regional communities are more intertwined online than anyone could have realized even two or three years ago.


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